Aug . 2016

Reasons Female CEOs Succeed In Nonprofits?

07.August.2016 Florence KANAAN tags: Success , NGO , Non-Profit , CEO

A recent study conducted by the talent management firm Saba and WorkplaceTrends.com revealed that we will have fewer female CEOs in the future. It showed that people who identified as female and/or as a millennial fell behind those who identified as male and/or a generation Xer in their ambition to be a CEO.


What needs to be asked in this situation is where and why women want to lead rather than if they really want to lead. Women favor to take charge in the nonprofit sector because they believe they can make a difference. According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s 2014 “Untapped Potential of Women in Nonprofits” report, 57% of women in this sector, including 72% of women ages 18 to 34, seek to have the position of CEO. So what are the reasons behind this approach?


First, the nonprofit sector is female-dominated. According to the 2012 “Current State of Women in Leadership” report from the Women’s College of the University of Denver, women form 75% of the nonprofit workforce as opposed to the business world where there are only 20 female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Moreover, more women in the nonprofit sector have the opportunity to take the lead from a female predecessor. In addition, this also indicates that more women get the occasion to hire women, to mentor and promote them.


Furthermore, in the nonprofit sector, the work-life balance is also an important issue. A study conducted by The Saba and WorkplaceTrends.com found that “work-life integration” is a priority for both women and millennials. This is an important reason for which makes women willing to join the nonprofit workforce.


The nonprofit sector also provides women and millennials with a chance to combine passion and work. In the last decade, many universities have established degree plans for Nonprofit Management and Social Entrepreneurship to meet the growing interest of millennials.


Yet, the top nonprofit leadership roles are still male-dominated. Men still hold 79% of the CEO positions for organizations with $25 million in assets or greater.  According to a 2014 GuideStar report, a gender pay gap is still found in this industry as well. This sector has its cons, but women still see it as a good opportunity to lead.


Nevertheless, if we want to have more female CEOs in the for-profit sector, we should learn from the nonprofit field. There should be more mentoring and role-modeling for young women, improved work-life balance possibilities, and ways for employees to feel they have achieved something in the workforce.